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How to get the perfect leather jacket

A motorcycle style leather jacket is what you picture when you think 'leather jacket'.

A motorcycle style leather jacket is what you picture when you think ‘leather jacket’.

The Ultimate Leather Jacket Buying Guide

Every man needs at least one leather jacket that injects some attitude into any outfit. A decent leather jacket is hard to find. Being a popular style staple, there are plenty of horribly made jackets on the market.

Different styles: the motorcycle jacket

When you think of a leather jacket, you are picturing a motorcycle jacket. A motorcycle jacket has prominent lapels and a collar. It may have a belt around the waist, and the front zipper commonly comes in at an angle. A few pockets adorn the front of the jacket, and the sleeves tend not to be cuffed with material. Traditionally, the lapels feature press-studs so that they can be clipped down. This is not necessary unless you plan on actually using the jacket for motorcycling adventures. When selecting a motorcycle style leather jacket, go for one that is reasonably simple. You don’t want too many pockets or buckles making the design complicated.

There is also the motocross jacket, which is actually different to the motorcycle jacket. The main idea of the motocross jacket is that it is streamlined. It has few pockets, if any. There are no lapels and often no collar. The motocross jacket is not as stylish as the motorcycle jacket, and looks silly if it is zipped all the way up.

Different styles: the bomber jacket

Bomber jackets are often available in leather. A leather bomber jacket is certainly a useful addition to your wardrobe, but it does not have quite as much attitude as a biker-style leather jacket. The bomber jacket is also less flattering, as it tends to be puffy rather than slim-fitting. Unlike a bomber jacket, a motocross style leather jacket does not have a strong association with air force pilots, and can be worn for a more classic look.

Paying for quality

A leather jacket is an investment. Be prepared to spend several hundred dollars on a decent jacket from an unknown brand. If you go for a popular label, you are looking to double that amount. Low-end designer leather jackets can run up into thousands of dollars. Leather tends to retain its value reasonably well, but you can shave off some of the cost by buying second-hand. Decide on a price range, but be realistic. If you score a ‘leather’ jacket for fifty dollars, chances are that it is man-made.

What type of leather?

You cannot have a leather jacket without the leather. It sounds obvious, but when you see the difference in price points, you may be tempted to buy a ‘pleather’ (plastic leather) jacket instead. Faux leather jackets have several disadvantages: the fabric does not feel as soft, they are not breathable so the wearer’s sweat is trapped inside, and they are not as durable. They also smell terrible when new. I recently bought a pleather jacket which had to be aired out for weeks before I could bring myself to wear it! Having a moral objection to leather is not uncommon, and in my opinion this is the only good excuse for buying fake leather.

There are different types of leather to consider. The best is top grain, which is made from one piece of outer animal hide with the imperfections from the skin smoothed off. You are most likely to encounter pieces labelled cheaper and less durable ‘genuine leather’, which means it is made from the inner hide. You want to avoid anything labelled as ‘bonded leather’, which means that pieces of leather have been stuck together.

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About Natasha Abrahams Natasha Abrahams is a writer and journalism student from Melbourne, Australia. When she is not busy with being a principal writer on Weekendnotes or skipping lectures, she can be found emptying her wallet at the nearest shopping centre. You can read more from Natasha at: http://mensstyleandfashion.com/

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